A major question in xenotransplantation is the nature of the humoral response that would occur following the transplantation of a xenogeneic organ into an immunosuppressed recipient as such a response could mediate delayed types of injury to the graft. To begin to address this issue we characterized the changes in the properties of xenoreactive antibodies occurring in patients exposed to porcine organs under conditions simulating transplantation. In two patients whose blood had been cross-perfused through porcine livers as a treatment for hepatic failure, the titer of xenoreactive IgM increased by four-fold and the titer of xenoreactive IgG increased by sixty-fold within ten days after perfusion procedures. The xenoreactive IgM and IgG antibodies were specific for Galαl-3Gal based on binding to porcine endothelial cells and bovine thyro-globulin, which express this determinant, and on the decrease in binding following treatment of porcine endothelial cells or bovine thyroglobulin with tr-galac-tosidase. The sequential addition to endothelial cells of amounts of serum known to saturate antibody-bind-ing sites obtained before and ten days after perfusion of porcine organs revealed no increase in binding of IgM above the level observed with serum obtained before perfusion, suggesting that new determinants were not identified. Moreover, the functional avidity of binding to porcine endothelial cells of IgM in serum obtained before and ten days after perfusion of porcine organs was unchanged. Even at later times, the presence of newly elicited antibodies against porcine aortic endothelial cell targets was not detected. Thus, exposure to porcine antigens in a vascularized organ results in increases in the levels of xenoreactive IgM and IgG antibodies—however, these antibodies exhibit properties similar to natural antibodies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas